Creating Ray of Hope: Guest Post by Emily Fay Lunn

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art for hope to support nepal

Creating Ray of Hope: A Guest Post by Emily Fay Lunn

Here’s some of the planning stages for the picture I did for the charity project Art for Hope: Nepal. I’ve added a bit of commentary to the images in the photoset for those who are interested in some of the back story.

The prompt for this project was “strength, hope, and rebirth.” At the start, I really wanted to emphasize the rebirth aspect, hence my initial ideas with the seedling plant and the sunlight. In the end that changed somewhat, and I ended up drawing a lot of my inspiration from the flag of Nepal, playing with the sun and moon motifs and the symbolism of the colours. But this is how I got there!

Because this was such a big project for me, I spent most of my time before the deadline panicking and procrastinating. It was a self-destructive cycle that I’m unfortunately prone to falling into. It meant that many of my early attempts were complete false starts. I knew what I wanted to achieve, but I wasted so much energy worrying about it not being good enough. Rather than cracking on that, I made everything 1000% more stressful.

In the end, I sat myself down and gave myself a stern word. I asked myself what I’m really good at drawing? Ridiculously long hair and flowing dresses. I used that as a starting point. In the end, I’m glad I scrapped my first few attempts — despite being, like, three days away from the deadline! I ended up with a much stronger picture for it.

ray of hope sketch

Attempt one. Not very successful. It didn’t convey what I wanted. It was far too stiff. I got as far as inking before I scrapped it. Then I started to panic because… deadline.

ray of hope sketch two

After faffing around for ages I developed a more solid idea, but sketching it out digitally wasn’t working for me. Again, it lacked the life and energy I wanted to convey. Still panicking.


In the end I scribbled on paper after asking myself what I’m really best at, which is ridiculous hair and long flowing lines. I was much happier with the initial sketch.

long hair and flowing dresses

Instead of resizing and diving straight in with the inks, I worked on a thumbnail canvas (420 x 320 pixels). This really helped keep the energy of the sketch, which I tend to lose with digital work.

hope for nepal

Still working on the small canvas, I planned out the colours. Initially I wanted a really warm feel, as if the picture was bathed in sunlight.

sketching art for hope charity for nepal book

Slowly, slowly getting there! I was more happy with the colour balance in this version. Tip for those using Photoshop: you can bring your SketchBook file in as a PSD. Then try Image > Adjustments > Variations to see different color effects, and choose the best one.

Eventually the background colours changed quite dramatically, but the early planning stages using a small canvas were crucial, particularly for preserving the flow of the pose/lines.  

Want to own a print?

Check out the final art and purchase a Ray of Hope print.

ray of hope print for nepal

About the author: Emily Fay Lunn is an Editorial Assistant at Gollancz, working on the SF Gateway. She describes herself as a freelance artist, avid reader, and aspiring crazy cat lady.

Other SketchBook Blog features about Art for Hope: Nepal can be found here and here.